From the 13th to 16th centuries Kutná Hora competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kutná Hora town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260 German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property. Under Abbot Heidenreich the territory greatly advanced due to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century.
In 1300 King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia issued the new royal mining code Ius regale montanorum. This was a legal document that specified all administrative as well as technical terms and conditions necessary for the operation of mines. The city developed with great rapidity, and at the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1419 was the second most important city in Bohemia, after Prague, having become the favourite residence of several Bohemian kings. It was here that, on January 18, 1409, Wenceslaus IV signed the famous Decree of Kutná Hora, by which the Czech university nation was given three votes in the elections to the faculty of Prague University as against one for the three other nations.
In 1420 Emperor Sigismund made the city the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites during the Hussite Wars, leading to the Battle of Kutná Hora. The city was taken by Jan Žižka, and after a temporary reconciliation of the warring parties was burned by the imperial troops in 1422, to prevent its falling again into the hands of the Taborites. Žižka nonetheless took the place, and under Bohemian auspices it awoke to a new period of prosperity.
Along with the rest of Bohemia, Kutná Hora passed to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. In 1546 the richest mine was hopelessly flooded; in the insurrection of Bohemia against Ferdinand I the city lost all its privileges; repeated visitations of the plague and the horrors of the Thirty Years' War completed its ruin. Half-hearted attempts after the peace to repair the ruined mines failed; the town became impoverished, and in 1770 was devastated by fire. The mines were abandoned at the end of the 18th century.
The city became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary. Kutná Hora was incorporated into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Nazi Germany in the period 1939–1945, but was restored to Czechoslovakia after World War II. The city became part of the Czech Republic in 1993 during the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Among the most important buildings in the area are the Gothic, five-naved St. Barbara's Church, begun in 1388, and the Italian Court, formerly a royal residence and mint, which was built at the end of the 13th century. The Gothic Stone Haus, which since 1902 has served as a museum, contains one of the richest archives in the country. The Gothic St. James's Church, with its 86-metre tower, is another prominent building. Sedlec is the site of the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and the famous Ossuary.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.